Hailey Bieber knows what you’ve been saying about her. The model, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, stepped out in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon wearing a baby tee that read “Nepo Baby.” Short for nepotism baby, the term has become a popular, semi-derogatory way to describe someone who has well-connected parents in their chosen field (though it’s mostly ascribed to actors, models, anyone who would be seen on the Oscars red carpet). Recently, New York magazine devoted a viral magazine package to the term, in which Bieber was labeled a “double nepo,” referring not only to her father, but also her husband Justin Bieber. What’s a girl to do but wear the label with pride and a pair of low-rise jeans?
This isn’t the first time that Bieber has engaged with this particular discourse. Last year, she had Gwyneth Paltrow (who, in addition to being Gwyneth Paltrow, is the daughter of actor Blythe Danner and producer Bruce Paltrow) on her YouTube series “Who’s In My Bathroom.” The two discussed the topic. There, Paltrow voiced the more controversial opinion that children of people in the industry have to work harder than those without connections in order to prove themselves. After Paltrow said that rising children of celebrities shouldn’t limit themselves, Bieber said that she “needed to hear that today.”
Bieber joins a long line of celebrities who have tried to control or address a narrative around them through fashion. By wearing a shirt that says “nepo baby,” it seems that Bieber is attempting to own the term; say it about herself before others can say it for her. Naomi Campbell did a similar thing when she wore a sweater emblazoned with “Naomi Hit Me… and I Loved It” referencing the accusation that she hit her housekeeper in 2006 (she pled guilty to the charges a year later). The faux-heiress, real scammer Anna Delvey wore a shirt featuring her own face recently, when stepping out of her home where she’s currently on house arrest. (She is barred from social media, but still knows how to stir up the platforms!) And who can forget Winona Ryder showing up at court after she was caught shoplifting a $760 Marc Jacobs cashmere sweater wearing Marc Jacobs’s fall 2001 collection? Each of these leaves the viewer wondering, ‘are they in on the joke?’